What does evolution by natural selection mean? How does 'survival of the fittest' explain the transformation of male clownfish into females? Or the many non-combative, non-competitive, and seemingly friendly interactions observed between ants and plants? Does it provide clues to the identity of the mysterious descendants of dinosaurs in today's world? These are some of the questions we explore in our theme section 'Evolution revisited'. In Annals of History, relive unsung surprises in the process of discovery of penicillin with interactive resources designed for the science classroom. How do we use pendulums to illustrate fundamental concepts in mechanics? How do we recognize and clarify incorrect student conceptions of the science of everyday phenomena? Find out with the detachable activity sheets & concept builders in 'The Science Lab'.
In this issue, we explore four big questions - black holes, the wound healing capacity of the skin, Higgs bosons, and the matrix of life. Use the activity sheets in 'A milky way to learn biology', 'What do we really see', & 'Trees and seasons in a changing world' to introduce students to thinking like a scientist, the human vision, and neighborhood trees. Discover how astronomer's measure distances in space in our new section 'How do we know?' Explore how engaging students in raising an urban terrace farm can strengthen their understanding and involvement with the local environment in 'Pedagogy of dirty hands'. Or, try out the concept builder from 'Physics for closeted Aristotelians' to find out how well your students understand motion under gravity. Read our 'Research to practice' section to discover how to create embodied learning experiences for students in the science classroom. Or, learn more about the first image of a black hole in our section 'Hot off the press'. Looking for more? Enjoy our pull-out poster on human skin & booklet on identifying 10 common trees.
As a child growing up in rural Kerala, my chief entertainment was reading: mostly science, history of science and, also, biographies of scientists. To me, science seemed pure and uncluttered by politicking. I thought of scientists as completely rational beings, driven only by a desire to uncover the mysteries of the universe. In my mind, they were impartial observers, experimenters and thinkers, untouched by personal prejudices But, as I grew up, I came to realise that this was far from the truth. No doubt, the history of science has many examples of cooperation between scientists, often from multiple disciplines, working together to uncover the mysteries of nature. But, it is also peppered with examples of prejudice, power play, factionalism, politics and one-upmanship. One such example is the exciting story of the uncovering of the structure of DNA shared in this issue’s ‘Discovering the Helical Staircase’. Every time I dwell on this path-breaking discovery, I am left with deep sadness at how one of the scientists who contributed significantly to this achievement – Rosalind Franklin – received hardly any credit for it. This is a reflection of how women scientists were systematically relegated to the background in those days. The men who dominated science wanted to keep it that way – dominated by men. How much more would science have progressed if women had been given their rightful say and encouragement?
This issue of iWonder... is centered on evolution, a concept that today is almost synonymous with Charles Darwin. However, in a strange but fitting way, the word evolution, derived from the Latin ‘evolvere’, was originally used to refer to the ‘unrolling of a book’. And it was, in fact, Charles Lyell who first used this term with its modern meaning – twenty-seven years before Darwin used it once in the final paragraph of his ‘On the Origin of Species’. Thus, it is Lyell’s notion that ‘the present is the key to the past’, a key first principle in almost every field of science, which is the underlying thread linking the articles in this issue – from the evolution of stars and the Earth to that of living organisms, humans, or even the phenomenon of ocean acidification.
The beauty of science is that there is no absolute truth. As newer technologies develop and newer discoveries are made, newer mysteries emerge, requiring more collaborative work and even more advanced technologies to solve them. Thus, science is a never-ending quest to understand the nature of the universe and how best humanity can tap its unlimited resources. We hope that this issue of ‘ i wonder...’ ignites the spark to embark on that quest in each of our readers.
In this issue, we explore two fascinating themes: 'Interactions' and 'Emerging Trends in Biology', with nine articles on topics as varied as chemical ecology, the common cold, fundamental forces, gut microbes in health and disease, and memory. In 'The Science Lab', discover simple classroom activities to teach Archimedes principle, photosynthesis and daytime astronomy. In 'Annals of History', trace the journey of microscopy from the simple magnifying glass to the powerful electron microscopes and easy-to-assemble fold-scopes available today. Discover the writer and physician Oliver Sacks through his fascination for the human brain, bikes and stories in 'Biography of a Scientist'. Looking for more? Enjoy our pull-out poster on ‘Ten things you didn’t know about – Bones’ and nature-based activity sheets – 'Chirp Chirp', 'Hibiscus Tales', 'Bark Bites' and 'All about Ants'! Plus, a pocket-size pictorial guide to common butterflies that you'll want to carry along on your next trip outdoors!
In our inaugural issue, we explore an important aspect of science that is seldom evident in school textbooks - its inter-disciplinarity. To understand any concept in its entirety, we must examine it from the perspective of many streams- physics, chemistry, biology and others and often through combining these disciplines. Hence, the theme for this issue is interdisciplinary science.
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